Blue cap with toby underneath, similar to what the Masterton meters will be. PHOTO/FILE

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

The first shipment of about 9000 electric water meters are on their way to Masterton from Germany for installation starting next month.

The cost to install the meters is $5.2 million and is expected to take around six months.

The Masterton District Council said water would be turned off for a short time while meters were installed.

Households would get an information leaflet about this scheduled work a few days in advance of it.

But the council was not charging for water until the 2021-22 financial year.

The charging structure for water meters would be part of planned public consultation on next year’s annual plan, beginning in March.

Most water meters would be installed at the toby [tap] under the blue panels on roadsides and footpaths where water comes to the house from the council water main.

The meters are expected to reduce water use, and help identify leaks by giving water users better information about their usage.

The council’s manager assets and operations David Hopman, said the meters would be a valuable tool in water management and conservation.

He said when meters were installed, the council would know where water was being lost on individual properties.

“Water is a precious resource, and we need to manage how we use it, but we can’t manage what we can’t measure,” he said.

The council estimated installing water meters could, over the long term, reduce water loss by up to 30 per cent, and reduce demand by 20 per cent.

Just over 75 per cent of households have a separate water supply.

Some houses had a shared supply, with water from one toby going to more than one property.

In these cases, the council would talk to property owners about options for metering the separate properties.

Water meters were first discussed as part of the 2015 Long Term Plan.

In 2018, as part of the plan process, the council asked for ratepayers’ views on installing water meters.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents supported installing water meters.

Hopman said most water networks lost about 15 per cent of their supply, but in Masterton, 30 per cent of water was unaccounted for.

The council supplies more than 4.4 billion litres of treated water to Masterton people each year.

About 64 per cent of it is used by domestic users and six per cent by commercial and industrial.

Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils have had the water charging system in place for a decade.